Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge: Volume 10

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JUNE 10-23, 2019

Ready to Swim Faster?

The average swimmer gets average results, and that’s why they’re average. But who wants that? I want far better for you, so I created my 14-Day Challenge – a collection of mental, technical, and physical tasks designed to speed you up so you can kick butt in the pool. I’ve used it with hundreds of PEAK swimmers, and it really works! Over the next 14 days, I’ll give you one primary task to complete each day, and I’ve added a second just in case you’re super ambitious and hunger for more. To obtain the most benefit, you’ll need to give it your all, so that means you can’t ever skip a day. Once the 14 days are up, I’ll send you a new set of tasks, and I’ll continue to do so for the next 11 months! Sounds like fun, huh? It is if you happen to think that swimming fast is fun. You’ll notice that each challenge is repeated a second time in the second week. I did that on purpose because of an all-important training concept called repetition, which means duplicating something that’s good for you to maximize results. My 14-Day Challenge isn’t for the faint of heart – so you’re either in, or you’re out, and if you’re in, let’s begin!

Challenge Menu


Distance off the wall and speed are two keys to a fast breaststroke pullout. Most swimmers travel far enough, but not quick enough. The 5 Pop challenge takes care of both. In case it’s unclear to you, the word “pop” means to explode!

  1. Pop off the wall, don’t push off the wall.
  2. Pop your dolphin kick, either before or after you pull down.
  3. Pop the bottom of your pull down.
  4. Pop your streamlined arms as you rise to the surface.
  5. Pop your first stroke when you break the surface.

Monday Bonus

If you want to be the best you must be willing to surpass the rest, so today’s challenge is to move up one spot in your lane by out-swimming the person ahead of you. They may not like it, but if you’re faster than them, you deserve to swim ahead of them.


In a packed pool, swimmers pretty much look the same, but from a hard work standpoint, it’s easy to tell who’s who. Full-time swimmers work every set to the max, half-time swimmers run hot and cold and put out when they feel like it, and no-time swimmers spend little or no-time working. Of the three, which one are you? If you’re full-time, congratulations, but if not, today’s the day to get your rear in gear. You can start by working your hardest on the first set of practice. If you’re still standing after that, do it again on the second set, and keep going until you run out of gas. In time working hard will become a habit and much easier to do.


Here’s how: stand tall with straight legs. Next, reach down and touch your fingertips to the ground. Next, keeping your legs straight (but not locked out) slowly lower your torso toward the ground and walk your hands forward into a push-up position. Next, take tiny steps forward until your feet meet your hands. Next, repeat the process 10 times through. If you’re up for it, add another set or two.


Working hard in practice will get you so far, but working hard in practice with near-perfect technique will get you all the way! Today’s challenge is to implement five elite backstroke techniques while training your hardest:

  1. Place your head in a chin-up position and keep it still while maintaining a tight body line from head to toe.
  2. Kick with a slight knee bend keeping your knees just beneath the surface.
  3. Keep your toes pointed back toward the other end of the pool.
  4. Maintain a tight, symmetrical, continuous kick at all times.
  5. Swim with opposite-arm timing meaning one arm remains opposite the other at all times.


How many fresh fruits and vegetables do you eat per day? If you’re like most swimmers not enough. Today’s task is to eat six colorful fruits and vegetables. Choose cherries and beets for red, apricots and carrots for yellow/orange, dates and cauliflower for brown/white, grapes and broccoli for green, and blueberries and eggplant for blue/purple. If this combination gives you a tummy ache feel free to make up your own. Colorful fruits and vegetables provide your body with a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants leading to better health and faster times.


There are three kinds of swimmers in the world, those stronger than their size, those weaker than their size, and those somewhere in the middle. Clearly, Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel have more strength than size giving them a substantial competitive edge. By gaining muscle, you’ll explode off your starts and turns, pull and kick more water, and improve your body position in all four strokes. To start, give this three-part challenge a try:

Elbow-In Push-Ups

Here’s How: Assume a push-up position with your head in a neutral position, your hands beneath your shoulders, your body squeezed tightly together, and your toes resting on the ground. Next, press your upper arms tightly against the sides of your upper body with your elbows pointing backward. Next, perform push-ups to failure or until you can no longer maintain proper form. Next, rest for one minute and repeat the challenge twice more.

Double-Leg Lowering

Here’s How: Lie face up with your legs raised ninety-degrees off the ground and your arms at the sides of your body. Next, slowly lower your legs making sure that they remain straight at all times and continue as long as your back stays flat on the ground. Next, return to the starting position and repeat. Continue to failure or until you can no longer maintain proper form. Next, rest for one minute and repeat the challenge twice more.

Power Squats

Here’s How: Stand tall in front of a chair with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms in a tight streamline position. Next, slowly lower your butt as close to the chair as possible without touching. Next, drive your legs forcefully upward to the point where your feet leave the ground. Next, return to the starting position. Continue to failure or until you can no longer maintain proper form. Next, rest for one minute and repeat the challenge twice more.


Swimming drills are like teachers designed to fix or refine your technique. When you perform them in practice do you take your time or rush through them with little or no thought? The problem with rushing is that you miss the finer points, the ones that make the biggest difference speed-wise. Today I want you to take a chill pill and slow it down so that you perform your drills correctly and benefit the most.


  1. No one-arm butterfly unless it’s a drill.
  2. Vary your freestyle breathing patterns by breathing every 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th, then 5th.
  3. Turn off the cruise control and swim every set with passion.
  4. No breathing off all turns, including backstroke and breaststroke.

FRIday Bonus

The faster you pull your arms through the water, the further forward you go due to increased water resistance on your arms. Today’s challenge is to speed up your arms when pulling backstroke or freestyle. You may want to ease into it though because it’s tougher than you think.


Working hard in practice will get you so far, but working hard in practice with near-perfect technique will get you all the way! Today’s challenge is to implement five elite butterfly techniques while training your hardest:

  1. Press your chest forward and down as your arms enter the water, and be sure to press hard enough so that your butt breaks the surface.
  2. Kick twice per stroke, once when your arms enter the water and once when they exit, and your second kick should be larger than your first.
  3. Enter your arms into the water straight and shoulder width apart with your palms facing downward.
  4. As you pull, bend your arms halfway so that your elbows point upward and your hands and forearms face backward toward your feet.
  5. Finish your pull with straight arms keeping them straight, and close to the surface, as they recover forward.


Chest And Shoulder Stretch:

  • Stand tall and clasp your hands together behind your back with your arms straight.
  • Raise your arms towards the sky, going only as high as is comfortable.
  • As you raise, pull your shoulders back to feel a full stretch.
  • Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Don’t forget to breathe!

Side Stretch:

  • Stand tall and clasp your hands straight up overhead with your palms facing the sky.
  • Stretch up and then over to the right, feeling a full stretch down your left side.
  • Keep your hips square and your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Hold for 20 seconds then switch sides.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Don’t forget to breathe!


Here’s a thought that packs a punch – when you feel good inside, you do better. With that in mind, focus on the things that make you feel the happiest today. If it’s your swimming, treat it with tender loving care. If it’s your mom and dad, give them a big hug or make them breakfast in bed. And if it’s your pet dog Rudy, give him a treat and take him for an extra long walk. Counting your blessings makes you feel good inside, and when you feel good, you do better.


Let’s get your week off to a fast start so tonight your task is to get a good night’s sleep. It may not sound like much of a challenge, but if you’re like most swimmers, you stay up well past your bedtime. Recommended hours of sleep vary with age. If you’re between the ages of 8-13, you should be getting 9-11 hours per night, and if you’re between the ages of 14-17, you should be getting 9-10 hours per night. A lack of sleep (over the long term) can have detrimental effects on your health including lack of focus, poor judgment, grumpiness, increased anxiety, loss of memory, and depression.